So, we missed orientation, but that was the biggest of our worries. We were welcomed right away as “the two Baylor students who were lost in Spain,” checked into our dorm, got settled, and registered. That was easy! I had to go to the IAE Caen building to get my monthly stipend, and while talking in English with Jed outside, a French guy named Thomas came up to us and asked us where we were from, since he heard us speaking. He had studied in Scotland for one year – I can’t imagine how difficult that would be for a Frenchman, when I even have trouble understanding Scottish at times. Our French friend Jonathan, who had studied at Baylor the previous semester, came to pick us up so we could get the rest of our luggage which he had been keeping for us during our journey. After dropping it off at our rooms, we went with Jonathan to go see Anais (another French exchange student to Baylor last semester) at her apartment along with some other friends of theirs. We all went out on Thursday night to celebrate and it was well worth it! I met a lot of their friends and spoke a lot of French – it was difficult but I tried my best! It’s so hard to have the same personality when speaking a second language… I felt kind of boring but hopefully it will get better. We also went out on Friday when invited to go by some people that we had met the night before. French parties are fantastic, that’s all I’m going to say!
The blog post will get a little jumpy from here out. Just a warning.
- So, I don’t and never will have internet in my room. It’s kind of a downer but at least I’m forced to go out into the university square, outside, to have wifi. Or sometimes I go to a little Kebab shop in the city with free wifi and DELICIOUS kebabs. The lack of my internet makes it hard to keep in touch back home as much as I would like but at least it encourages me to get out of my room.
- There are weird things in France. Like the constant lack of toilet seats anywhere and everywhere. Also “stovetops” in our kitchens on each floor that require a special pan… a pan that inducts heat through the metal. It’s the only way that the stovetop works, and Jed bought the wrong pan. Dommage!
- I opened a French bank account in order to be able to deposit my monthly stipend from the university. I am anxiously awaiting my Carte Bleu – the credit/debit card that pretty much every French person has – so I can actually withdraw money from my account! Come on, French Post System!
- This first week of orientation has been interesting. I’ve been placed in the B2 Level (from lowest to highest, there are A1, A2, B1, B2, and C1 levels) with a concentration in Communications. I’m excited but a little nervous for the big standardized test at the end of the semester called the DELF, which contains four parts: oral expression, written expression, oral comprehension, and written comprehension. I’m most nervous about the oral expression section, which is where I’m given a short article that I have to read and form an argument on within 30 minutes, and then present it to a professor one-on-one for a duration of 20 minutes where I’ll be questioned and tested on my argument. IN FRENCH. Yikes!
Overall, this first week has been really great. It’s nice to get back into the swing of the student lifestyle. Although much different than Baylor, I think I’m enjoying that change. Plus it’s super cool to see my Baylor French buddies from last semester (although hard to speak in French with them after speaking English for 5 months!). I know it’s only the first week but I’m really hoping that I get better at understanding conversations because right now I feel like I couldn’t jump into a conversation no matter how badly I wanted to. I have no problem answering a direct question… but. I don’t know. It will get better!
pictures: (1) Jed and Jonathan after dinner outside (2) one of the many churches in the city (3) Jed, Anais, and Jonathan at the bar (4) Jed, Jonathan, Anais, and me oustide (5) Jonathan, Jed, Anais, and me while out on Thursday night… sic ’em Bears! (6) me in front of the phoenix statue (symbol of the university)